Talks by Most Ven Kotugoda Dhammawasa Maha Thero
Venerable Kotugoda Dhammawasa Thera is one of the few bhantes
in Sri Lanka who can keep the attention and the interest of his audience from
start of talk to the end.His identity is his own superb inimitable style of
preaching. His serene, compassionate, pleasing and pleasant delivery, coupled
with rhythmic and enchanting voice with simple but brilliant vocabulary. His indepth knowladge of Buddhist history and the history of
Sri Lanka has made people understand that this great bhante is indeed a living
encyclopedia. His wide knowledge on Buddhist philosophy and of comparative
religions, made him the most distinguished and most learned popular Buddhist
preacher in the island. Regular programmes uninterrupted for more than 60
years, clearly shows what a genius preacher he is. Millions glued to the radio
sets to listen to Kotugoda Dhamamvasa Maha Nayake Thera.
mall scale landed proprietor who lived
at Kotugoda, late Endavitaranage Haramanis Rodrigo and Endavitaranage
Selestinahamy were blessed with twins. The elder one a girl, Endavitarange
Selestinahamy was followed half an hour later by a baby boy. They named this
little boy Sirimevan Rodrigo. They were the last two in a family of seven. This
boy, Sirimevan gained international recognition as one of the ‘Great
Buddhaputras’, namely Kotugoda Dhammawasa, the reputed Dhamma preacher
missionary. The playful little boy Sirimevan, studied at the village Buddhist
Mixed School, Kotugoda. He was a keen student. The parents who had a big family
entrusted their children with various duties to perform. They owned 15 to 20
cattle. Sirimevan was given the task of looking after the cattle.
After school, Sirimevan had a habit of visiting the village
temple. Here, with other children, he studied Buddhist books, such as
Buddhagajjaya, Namastasatakaya, Vadankavi Potha etc, Sinhala, Pali and Sankrit
under the chief monk Venerable Kotugoda Pemananda Thera. The little child
Sirimevan was intelligent and hardworking. His meritorious deeds in Samsara
must have motivated him to enter the Order.
Motivation to enter Sasana His close association with the village temple, motivated him
to be a Buddhist monk. I presume, it would have been his meritorious deeds he
accumulated in his previous births in his Samsaric journeys that prompted
Sirimevan Rodrigo to enter the Buddhist Order. He was an extraordinary child.
He was kindhearted even as a child. The Chief Priest at Kotugoda Temple, Venerable Kotugoda
Premaratana Nayake Thera, had a close connection with a monk named Unawatune
Dhammapala, who had a small temple or Awasaya at Mount Lavinia. It was here at
Dharmapalayaramaya Temple, Mount Lavinia, that the 15-year-old Sirimevan
Rodrigo entered the Order on August 17, 1948, as Kotugoda Dhammawasa.
He started his Pirivena education at the Paramadhamma Chetiya
Pirivena, Ratmalana and later at Vidyodaya Pirivena, Maligakanda. The young
Samanera, Kotugoda Dhammawasa was a brilliant student. Further, he too attended
all religious activities conducted by Dharmapalayaramaya Temple.
It was during this time he started delivering Dhamma
anusasana . He enjoyed it and was committed to it. As his Guru, Unawatune
Dhammapala suffered from asthma, it was left to young Samanera Dhammawasa, to
deliver anusasana frequently. At a young age, he gained the art of delivering
English education While studying at Vidyodaya Pirivena, Maligakanda, Ven
Dhammawasa Thera realized the value of English education. He learned English at
Padhanagara Dharmadhuta Vidyalaya and later at the Pembroke Academy close to
Royal College, Colombo.
On July 10, 1954, Kotugoda Dhammawasa Thera obtained
Upasampada - Higher Ordination. The Upasampada ceremony was conducted at the
Kalugange Udakuppeke Simamalakaya, Kalutara. It was conducted and officiated by
late Aggamahapandita Ven Beruwela Sirinivasa Mahanayake Thera.
The great and pious monk Kotugoda Dhammawasa is also a
reputed Buddhist writer. He became a ‘Literary Giant’ among the Buddhist monks.
Apart from his lovely Dhamma anusasanas from 1965 to date, he contributed
enormously to Buddhist literature by writing valuable books on Buddhism and
printing them and distributing leaflets on Buddhism.
Anusasana on Radio Records show that on April 21, 1928, the first ever
Dhammadesanawa was relayed on Radio Ceylon. It was delivered by Most Venerable
Pelene Sri Vajiragnana Mahanayake Thera of Vajiraramaya, Bambalapitiya.
Thereafter, anusasanas were delivered by many reputed Bhikkus and Buddhist
discussion, Buddhist talks, Dhamma chinta and weekly anusasanas became a
regular feature to date, in Radio Ceylon and later at SLBC.
Venerable Kotugoda Dhammawasa Thera, succeeded as the chief
incumbent of Dharmapalayaramaya, Mount Lavinia, after the demise of his ‘Guru
Hamuduruwo’, Unawatune Dhammapala Thera.
Added to his prowess as a leading Dhamma preacher, he took an
active part in propagating Buddhist missionary activities in countries such as
Nepal, Japan, USA, Pakistan, Thailand, Russia, Myanmar, India, Mongolia,
Siberia, Singapore etc.
Further, Venerable Kotugoda Dhammawasa Nayake Thera
constructed a Buddhist centre named ‘Upali Dharma Ashramaya’ close to Sella
Kataragama, in a land donated to him by a devotee, Buddhini Devi Bandaranaike.
Kotugoda Dhammawasa Anu Nayake of Amarapura Nikaya was honoured with the titles
Dharmapala Vansalankara Saddharma Keerthi Sri Tripitaka Visharadha and Kotte
Kalyani Samagri Dharma Maha Sangha Sabha gave him the title Pravachana Keerthi
Sri Sasana Sobhana.
Venerable Kotugoda Dhammawasa Thera is involved with most of
the national, religious and cultural development projects. He also serves as
the most venerated adviser for the Ministry of Buddha Sasana. He also
functioned as Patron of the All Ceylon Buddhist Association, Dehiwala
Bauddhodaya Samitiya and Sri Lanka Buddhist and Pali Universities.
The Anunayake Thera of Amarapura Nikaya established Buddhist
Temples in Nepal. Before the LTTE attacked the Katunayake International
Airport, there were regular Nepal-Sri Lanka flights. But after the LTTE attacks,
it stopped. Dhammawasa Thera now appeals to authorities to commence these
There are more than 20 pupils ordained under Ven Kotugoda
Dhammawasa. There are 12 Nepalese priests, eight are from Czhechoslovakia and
two from Bangladesh. Ven Dr Dhammapala is currently at Los Angeles attending to
missionary activities. At present, Buddhayaye Dhammaloka is the Viharadhikari
of Dharmapalayaramaya, Mount Lavinia. Then there are Thappasi Dhamma of Nepal
and Professor Medawacchiye Dhammajoti, a senior lecturer at the University of
Like their eminent teacher Kotugoda Dhammawasa, all his
pupils are pious, committed and disciplined monks who devote and commit their
entire life to the propagation of Theravada Buddhism.
I presume that many Buddhist devotees are not fully aware
that at Dharmapalayaramaya Temple, Mount Lavinia you will find a branch or a
sapling of the most venerated Ananda Bodhiya of India. It was gifted to
Kotugoda Dhammawasa many years ago. Many Buddhist devotees daily flock to
worship the branch of the Ananda Bodhiya. Bodhi Poojas are held to venerate
this important Ananda Bodhiya daily. This is probably the only Ananda Bodhi
branch on Sri Lankan soil.
pious, compassionate and scholarly monk, Sri Lanka’s voice of Dharmadesanas,
Ven Kotugoda Dhammawasa Thera was the recipient of the prestigious title
Aggamahapandita . He received this title on March 2, 2007 at Swarnaguha Hall,
Most Venerable Maha Thero Passed away in the early hours of 22nd March 2021 after a brief illness. He surely has achived what all buddhists yearn for. Sadu Sadu Sadu